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Anarchism is a broad category of active ethical, social and political philosophies encompassing theories and attitudes which reject the state,[1] as compulsory government,[2] and support its elimination or anarchy.[3][4] Anarchism is defined by The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics as "a cluster of doctrines and attitudes centered on the belief that government is both harmful and unnecessary."[5]

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to anarchism.


Essence of anarchism

Anarchism promotes a rejection of philosophies, ideologies, institutions, and representatives of authority in support of liberty. It asserts that cooperation is preferable to competition in promoting social harmony; that cooperation is only authentic when it is voluntary; and that societies are capable of spontaneous order, rendering government authority unnecessary at best, or harmful at worst. In most cases, anarchism…


Manifestos and expositions of anarchist viewpoints

Anarchism is a living project which has continued to evolve as social conditions have changed. The following are examples of anarchist manifestos and essays produced during various time periods, each expressing different interpretations and proposals for anarchist philosophy.


Schools of anarchist thought

The bisected flags/stars which symbolize various anarchist schools of thought.

Anarchism has many heterogeneous and diverse schools of thought, united by a common opposition to compulsory rule. Anarchist schools are characterized by "the belief that government is both harmful and unnecessary", but may differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism.[5] Regardless, some are viewed as being compatible, and it is not uncommon for individuals to subscribe to more than one.

Schools of thought
Umbrella terms

The following terms do not refer to specific branches of anarchist thought, but rather are generic labels applied to various branches.

History of anarchism

The execution of the Haymarket martyrs following the Haymarket affair of 1882 inspired a new generation of anarchists.

Although social movements and philosophies with anarchic qualities predate anarchism, anarchism as a specific political philosophy began in 1840 with the publication of What Is Property? by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. In the following decades it spread from Western Europe to various regions, countries, and continents, impacting local social movements. The success of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia initiated a decline in prominence for anarchism in the mid-20th century,[6] roughly coinciding with the time period referred to by historians as The short twentieth century. Since the late 1980s, anarchism has begun a gradual return to the world stage.

Global events

Historic precedents and background events (pre-1840)
Classical development and global expansion (1840 – 1917)
Post-WWI decline (1918 – c. 1980s)
Post-Cold War resurgence (c. 1990s – present)

Coverage by region

Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebrations on May 1, 1986, at the Melbourne Eight Hour Day monument.
Anarchism in Africa
Anarchism in the Americas

Brazil — Canada — Cuba — Mexico — United States

Anarchism in Asia

China — India — Israel — Japan — Korea — Turkey — Vietnam

Anarchism in Europe

Austria — France — England — Greece — Ireland — Italy — Poland — Russia — Spain (Anarchist Catalonia) — Sweden — Ukraine (The Free Territory)

Anarchism in Oceania



Historical societies

General anarchism concepts

These are concepts which, although not exclusive to anarchism, are significant in historical and/or modern anarchist circles. As the anarchist milieu is philosophically heterogeneous, there is disagreement over which of these concepts should play a role in anarchism.


The traditional fist-and-cross symbol of the Anarchist Black Cross, a notable political support organization (est. 1906).

Notable organizations

Formal anarchist organizational initiatives date back to the mid-1800s. The oldest surviving anarchist organizations include Freedom Press (est. 1886) of England, the Industrial Workers of the World (est. 1905), Anarchist Black Cross (est. 1906), Central Organisation of the Workers of Sweden (est. 1910) and the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (est. 1910) of Spain.


Anarchist organizations come in a variety of forms, largely based upon common anarchist principles of voluntary cooperation, mutual aid, and direct action. They are also largely informed by anarchist social theory and philosophy, tending towards participation and decentralization.


Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865), the first self-described "anarchist" and an influential anarchist theorist.

Prior to the establishment of Anarchism as a political philosophy, the word "anarchist" was used in political circles as an epithet. The first individual to self-identity as an anarchist and ascribe to it positive connotations was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, in 1840. Since then, the label has continued to be used in both of these senses.

Notable anarchists

Anarchists, with their inherent rejection of authority, have tended not to assign involuntary power in individuals. With few exceptions, forms of anarchist theory and social movements have been named after their organizational forms or core tenets, rather than after their supposed founders. However, there is a tendency for some anarchists to become historical and notable figures by virtue of their impact on the development or propagation of anarchist theory, and/or by taking part in armed rebellion and revolution.

Notable non-anarchists

The following are individuals who have influenced anarchist philosophy, despite not being self-identified as anarchists:

Scholars of anarchism

Anarchism lists

See also

Related philosophies


  1. ^ Malatesta, Errico, "Towards Anarchism", MAN!. Los Angeles: International Group of San Francisco. OCLC 3930443.
  2. ^ Bakunin, Mikhail, God and the State, pt. 2.; Tucker, Benjamin, State Socialism and Anarchism.; Kropotkin, Piotr, Anarchism: its Philosophy and Ideal; Malatesta, Errico, Towards Anarchism; Bookchin, Murray, Anarchism: Past and Present, pt. 4; An Introduction to Anarchism by Liz A. Highleyman
  3. ^ "Anarchism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 29 August 2006
  4. ^ "Anarchism". The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005. P. 14 "Anarchism is the view that a society without the state, or government, is both possible and desirable."
  5. ^ a b Slevin, Carl. "Anarchism". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Ed. Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  6. ^ Avrich, Paul (2006). The Russian Anarchists. Stirling: AK Press. pp. 188. ISBN 1904859488. 
  7. ^ Peter Kropotkin, "Anarchism", Encyclopædia Britannica 1910

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